Monday, June 20, 2011

The Dating Game

I do like my play on words, so sorry if you're expecting to read something about 'dating' in reference to the activity you do when you're looking for a partner (that's certainly not needed here), but rather a different sort of 'dating' which is more related to gardens and gardening :-)

The garden sofa and chair set - I like this garden furniture a lot, it's like bringing out your lounge into your garden space. We've always toyed with the idea of acquiring a set but it's not the sort of furniture that would comfortably fit in with a rustic jungle setting, and seems more at home to a contemporary one. Most areas of our garden would not look right with such a furniture set, until recently that is, when we will soon have that space that would be appropriate for it.

We were looking in a garden centre the other day, checking out the different ranges, colours, and sizes of basically the same design. Not that we were going to purchase a set now but it's good to keep an eye on whatever particular set we fancy. There is usually a window of opportunity in the autumn wherein most garden furnitures are put on greatly reduced price, sometimes even more than 50% off, and that's the best time to purchase them. These things are rarely sold out of stock before the sales so then would be the best time to buy them. (And it is for this same principle that I very rarely buy any garden furniture at full price during the spring and summer, the only snag is you'll have to store them and wait till next year to use them but that's only a minor inconvenience.)

Going through the selections, and making a mental shortlist, I suddenly thought something. 'Hmmmm, I'm not so sure now about any of these', I said. And Gaz asked, 'How come?'. And then I replied, 'This design has been out for quite some time now, what if it soon becomes dated?'. And we both nodded in recognition. And so we went home shortly, back to square one.

So, will this furniture set likely to become dated soon? Now that is the question.

This sort of furniture is inherently expensive compared to other types of garden furniture, and you would expect that it would at least serve it's purpose (looking pretty and a comfy place to sit and relax) for many years to come, and for me that's ten years or more (Ok, that sounds a bit tight but hey, how often do you need to change your living room sofa?). So it's the sort of purchase you'd hopefully only do once and not do again for quite some time.

I like the design, the streamlined look and how comfortable it is to sit on and relax. And the material looks natural and easy to clean, durable enough to withstand outdoor conditions. But this 'look' has been out now for a few years and is steadily appearing in most people's gardens. Will it carry on remaining popular and in demand for many years to come? 

A bistro set, another one to consider and requires less space too. Difficult to sleep on it though, unless you have had too much red wine! (Photo from

I guess the answer to both questions is that only time will tell. Will it be a timeless classic as the quintessential black leather sofa or even the wooden garden bench (Ok, maybe not as mega timeless as that), or will it be a trendy signature piece definitive of a certain era, the nineties and the 21st century noughties?

Still widely available, is it timeless or simply 80's?

My prediction would be, it will remain fashionable for at least the next five years, if it goes further than that then again only time will tell. If you own one already then I think you'll be fine, however for the likes of us who is still considering purchasing a set, if we do would we end up buying something that's already halfway towards the end of a current trend?

'That' high back rattan furniture, very 70's!

Ultimately, whether a furniture will date or not it doesn't matter as long as you really like it and you'll enjoy using it. That's the important bit, not whether it is trendy or not :-)

As for me, I'm also starting to wonder whether this design is actually really 'me' or not (Oh yes, make that 'us'). I think that's also one of the (unspoken) reasons for our hesitation in the end. Certainly other designs and styles are also worth considering (maybe stick with the same material). There's plenty of time to browse, think things through and make a decision, I'm rather enjoying the process I must admit!

Blagdon Affinity Pond, a ready made pond to match your 'contemporary' rattan furniture. I'm a bit sceptical about this, I think it belongs up there with the '2 in 1 Pond and Table Set' i.e. a short lived fad.

Recently I spotted Gaz poring through the Habitat catalogue again, and I enjoy popping 'round the Conran Shop as there is one near where I work. Both avid admirers of the designs of their furniture (and occasionally acquire indoor furnishings from them) they sure do have lots of nice things, including outdoor furniture. And the range is more individual and unique too. Maybe I should just take the hint, after all they have autumn sales too... :-)


  1. Can't wait to see what you end up with. I know it will be perfect.
    We tend to stay with the Indonesian Teak furniture. It doesn't seem to go in and out of fashion (or maybe it has and I just never noticed) ;-)

  2. Like Missy, I will be interested to see what you come up with. I am not one for fashion any more..well maybe I never was...functionality and comfort (most important) is more important for me.

  3. So of course since you provided a link I had to check out what's available at Habitat...not terribly impressed. But then I actually owned one of those high backed rattan chairs as pictured so what do I know!?! Of course I should preface that by saying I worked at an imports shop fresh out of high school in the early 80's so I practically had to!

  4. Our local B&Q had a set similar to the top set ( in recently - about £399.

  5. Hi Missy, I love Indonesian Teak Furniture, it is perfect, especially in your location. I wouldn't mind having some of it here too!

    Hazel, I agree that functionality and comfort must come up first, above anything else. It's amazing how much garden furnitures are out there (and some very expensive ones too) that are very uncomfortable to use. It's just there for display purposes and that doesn't make sense either..

    Loree, the selection at their websites are crap, compared to the ones at the shop. Their websites don't do them justice at all. I think the ones shown online are mostly the sort that can be easily delivered.

    Those high backed chairs are fine, in fact they can be very comfy and in the right setting still looks good. Sometimes all it needs is a lick of paint and change of upholstery or fabric of the cushions to keep it up to date.

    The high backed chair at the Emmanuelle poster, I must admit I still like that. If I had a spacious tropical conservatory I wouldn't mind one of that....

    Cheers Lucien! I must check out the one near us, that's a very good price....

  6. I have never seen one of those ponds! I agree that furniture for the outdoors is difficult - I've been contemplating this for quite a number of years! Good luck on your decision.

  7. Mark, you bring up excellent points. I tend to get overwhelmed very quickly and end up not knowing at all what I want. But I must say I've loved that high-backed 70s rattan chair for 25 years. Maybe I should finally get one--it's so out of style, it's bound to become fashionable again soon :-).

  8. I agree that it is most important to get what you love and what is appropriate to the setting. Regarding furniture, I think comfort and ease of care are really important. I'm sure you will choose something that's perfect. I recognize that trends exist, but I have no problem ignoring them.

  9. Hi Holley, when we were in the garden centre they had one of those ponds on display. I must say that there were plenty of kids hovering over it and playing with the pond, fascinated with the window too. I think it’s just a sturdier version of your usual indoor aquarium, and with the popularity of the ‘new’ rattan furniture they saw a market for it. I can see it appealing to lots of parents with small kids too. I’m still sceptical of it’s longevity but if it does prove successful then I can imagine lots more variation will come out :)

    On further reflection, I think nearly all garden furniture are inherently timeless, it’s just some are more associated with an era more than others. Most garden furnitures are safer bet to buy than say indoor ones, especially when it comes to trends.

    Gerhard, I do love that chair too, it’s very comfy and it’s like sitting on a throne (and the poster makes it sexy!). I’m a fan of it and if I had the right place for one I’d definitely get one :)

    Hi Debs, I happily ignore trends on most times too :) It must please the owners first before anyone else. I might also spot something when I’m least expecting it and make impromptu decisions.

  10. I would go for deck chairs.

  11. wow, this is such a hard decision. i ended up going with a similar fake wicker set "strathwood" i got for what i thought was a good deal on amazon--similar to your first pic. (
    it's held up well, and is pretty comfortable (a MUST! i have a lot of MCM that's great visually but painful to sit in.) if you have a covering, i would totally go for '50s-'70s vintage rattan. who cares about trends, spring for what you love!! can't wait to see it!

  12. Janine, aren't we all spoilt for choice? I love the dazzling selection :) And thanks for bringing up Amazon, funny enough I haven't thought of checking them out before and they always have a good deal for lots of things, most of the time better than anywhere else. Must start browsing...


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